Saturday, November 26, 2011

Normandy SR2 auction soon!

It is up for auction very VERY soon! It will be auctioned 8PM Saturday November 26th on the live stream of the Mass Effect Marathon for the Childs Play charity! Check out here for auction details.
You will have to be in the video stream chat to bid on it.

Note that it is not quite done yet, but I will be working to get it done as soon as possible! I dont anticipate much more time to finish it, but fieldwork will be getting in the way a bit in December.

This auction is not the only thing we have in store for the rest of the weekend.
Please tune in and donate or spread the word if you can!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Normandy SR2 Model Constructed

Want this model when it is completed? It is up for auction very soon! It will be auctioned 8PM Saturday November 26th on the live stream of the Mass Effect Marathon for the Childs Play charity! Check out here for auction details.

I first started planning the Normandy model around August. It was nothing but a couple screenshots and 3D model files. With small models and minis I can see progress on very quickly, but this build required so much more planning and preparation than I was used to. But I stuck to my guns regardless, chipping away at each little piece at a time.

Now here it is near the end of November, and I have the thing sitting in my apartment! I am equal parts happy to see it come out so well, and relieved to be mostly done with it.

Now there are just a few more steps remain before it is fully complete. I need to fix the stand which has begun to buckle. I didn't pick the center of balance correctly, so it is breaking the PVC. I will fix this with a secondary stand. I ended up magnetizing the front two fins after an unfortunate ship face plant. This makes me much more at ease about moving it. There are also a few last details that I want to score into the ship, and the little mini antenna thing in the front before it is ready.

Oh, and I have to paint it. I will be following the Cerberus colors used in ME2, and this time I will be trying my hand at custom printing decals. I've done decal work before on my Tau and other projects, and I am confident in my ability to get a seamless look. If I need to however, I can fall back on cutting out stencil again. I will be hand painting the other details that didn't actually make it into 3D on the model, mostly windows and vents/important panel lines.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Normandy SR2 WIP

I've been steadily getting through the build over the last few weeks, despite quite a bit of work getting in the way. The progress I have made recently has me pretty confident that I will be finishing the build in time.

Here is a shot from the last thruster getting put together. I try to build it in sections to give the joins time to strengthen.

After the thrusters were finished, they were assembled and glued onto the wings with wires going through the inside wings to connect to the base when ready. I then took cross-sections of the hull at five points, and created my top hull skeleton from it. The slight curve to the bottom of the hull made things a little difficult, but with enough sanding I was able to achieve it well enough. I made a skeleton set for the bottom section as well, and included the piping as a brace for the stand. Holes were drilled into it for wiring from the wings. I spent half a day working on window lighting which just came out horribly, so it all got entombed by the resin. Maybe next year.

The hull resin work is halfway done. The first layer has been set and sanded. The next layer of patches is applied and setting. It is apply, sand, repeat, until I have the perfect hull. The bottom will get done the same way after.

The base is well along in construction as well. I got the stand set up, and drilled a hole through for the power supply to connect to. The wire will run up to a quick disconnect at the connection on the ship.

I knew my SR2 was going to be roughly twice as large as the SR1, but it wasn't until I took out one of last year' prototype pieces that I was struck by just how much larger of a build it is.

Left to do:
-Finish top hull sculpting
-Create back, side, and front fins
-Wire and integrate wings to hull
-Finish bottom hull sculpting
-Integrate fins to hull
-Prime and Paint
-Finish base. Plaque, and either wood stain or nebula airbrushing

The model will be fully assembled and painted up for auction during the G33kwatch Mass Effect Marathon, November 26th at 8PM EST. The auction takes place in the marathon chat feed, and I will be in chat and on the video when it is auctioned. All proceeds go directly to the Childsplay Charity, which helps children in hospitals to have toys and games.

If you are interested in the model, feel free to ask me any questions! If you can spread the word about the marathon and auction where you can, I would be very grateful.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Normandy SR2 Model Build

It's been a year since my first real attempt at building a model from scratch. Not only was I inexperienced in many of the methods required, but it was also a much bigger scale than I was used to dealing with. My build of the Normandy SR1 from Mass Effect ended up being a great learning experience, although it was not without its problems and mistakes.

It was created for the G33kwatch Mass Effect Marathon, where it was auctioned off for a good sum! All proceeds went to the Childsplay Charity, which helps children in hospitals to have toys and games.

This will be the second year of the MEM, and so I am back in action making the Normandy SR2! Just as in game, this build will be bigger and better than its predecessor. I've already spent a good amount of time working on this, but the results have been pretty lackluster until recently.

I've decided to write down my experience so far to both give you a preview of whats to come, and also to provide any tips and lessons learned along the way. If you just want to skip to the good stuff, pictures of the current build state are at the bottom. :)


I began by looking at my build from the previous year and identifying the major mistakes that I wanted to avoid this year.

Major failings of last year's build
  • Incorrect source material - The 3d model I obtained for the SR1 was very convenient at the time of planning, but I learned too late of quite a few incorrect portions of it. They were nothing too major, but the discovery when the project was already too far along was demoralizing all the same. 

  • Haphazard materials and planning - I was able to make schematics from my 3D model as planned, but my methods of transferring to plasticard and choice of materials really came back to hurt me during the assembly phase. I was not confident in making perfect cuts, so I tried having balsa wood cores with plasticard encasing. Not taking plasticard thicknesses into account made measurements off. Also, use of Google Sketchup to get proper measurements gave poor results and kept me constantly adjusting on the fly.

  • Making molds and resin a priority - This was an interesting learning experience and half worked. I was hoping to be able to make a few clones of pieces and extras in case I broke parts. The molds worked out, but the resin gave me many troubles. I was forced to resort to dental plaster instead of the resin. This was not an optimal medium for a large ship, and added much more time to the build on top of the time already spent on making my first set of molds.

So I decided to try to plan out much more of my build beforehand, and stick with methods that I was confident in. I dropped any notion of mold-making, but I felt comfortable enough to add LED's into it.

With this in mind, I scoured the net for source materials. Pictures, models, in game screenshots.. In the end I settled on an amazing 3D model made by Thorreign (Matt/Mathias). The quality and detail are top notch, and I knew I would be in a good state working off this model.

I picked up an Autocad program and determined my scale of choice. This was done partially just through experimentation, and I finally chose a size which would make the model a bit under 2 feet long. This was almost twice as large as the SR1, but I felt the build deserved it.

I spent a few weeks isolating individual parts and generating views from different angles. After that, it was a matter of manually measuring every piece I would need. You can see this in all of my chicken scratch on some of the sheets.

At this point I needed to focus on amassing the proper materials. After looking at my current supply of plasticard, I decided on a 1/32 thickness for the majority of the build, and a 1/16 for certain parts that might need a more sturdy join, like the hull frame. I also picked up some 1/64 clear plastic for the light emitting sections, and tubing for joints and the stand. I threw in some strips of common sizes that would save me some cutting time.

For LED's, I went through Evan Designs, my regular source for ready-made LED's. For single builds, having everything assembled really helps cut out some time on lighting.

Not shown is my resin clay, which I used last year for the hull and will be using again. More on that at a later date.

I decided to upgrade my tools for this build as well. In particular, the repeat cutter has proven invaluable. It allows me to measure out a particular dimension, lock it in, and then cut as many pieces to that dimension as needed. The original stopper was a bit askew on the sides, so I refitted it with a right angle ruler to ensure I was always getting 90 degree cuts.

The smaller hobby ruler has been very helpful due to the quick sizing sections, and the larger clear ruler has a steel side for actual cutting.

I've switched to plastic cement over super glue for my plasticard joins, as it actually melts the plastic for a more cohesive bond.

Also shown painters tape, sandpaper, and many sharp blades are a must for plasticard work.

With the plans and materials available, I took the time-consuming step of categorizing everything into like widths, and cutting strips of each. This looks boring, and it pretty much is. But it was also something I could do while away from my home workspace, so I took advantage of what I could do and got it done.

I then cut all of the pieces for each individual part and bagged them up so that I could assemble them when I had the time.

This weekend allowed me to follow through on my goal of a high-planning approach. I took my prepared materials and plans for the lower thrusters and wing assemblies, and put everything together. Not everything was exactly correct and I had to make quite a few new pieces that I missed, but on the whole it worked out spectacularly.

I am very pleased with the speed at which these got completed. You can see the completed thrusters next to their schematics, and the pile of the next set of thrusters awaiting construction.

And now what you were actually looking for in this post, the pics! Here they are all test lighted up. I wasn't originally going to do the LED's just yet, but the way the assembly came together they needed to go in.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Black Reach Complete!

Work complete! While taking much (100-200 hours?) longer than I originally expected, I really enjoyed the project. I've learned a bit more about my vallejo paint. I struggled with first coat coverage, but I also ended up painting from black and brown basecoats. I will probably go back to some citadel foundations to round out my earlier paint coverage stages on darker models from now on.

I also learned to make a paint chart of all my mixes and washes used. This helped greatly when coming back to work on it after a week, to maintain a uniformity in style. These will get passed on to Rebornflames, to help act as a template towards any new units that might get painted up in the army. I will be doing this with every project from now on.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blackreach Raven Guard

I have eaten much humble pie while working on this Black Reach set that was supposed to be finished in 24 hours. The Orks continue to stare me down as I work on them, but the Raven Guard may now stand tall (and painted!)

The winner and friend to G33kwatch, Rebornflames, was nice enough to let me take my time on them instead. Having more time meant that I could put a good deal more effort into them, so I have done my best to bring them up a notch in quality. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.